According to Grant Swinehart, it was just what Turner Ashby needed.
Coming off back-to-back losses for the first time this season and suddenly sitting below .500 in Valley District play, the Knights were desperate to get back to their winning ways.
“I think it all started with our great week of practice that we had,” Swinehart said. “We came out focused and really wanted to turn things around from the past few games.”
Turner Ashby did just that as it scored on seven of its first eight touches en route to a 75-6 blowout of winless district opponent Waynesboro in the finale of the Shenandoah Valley Football Classic at James Madison’s Bridgeforth Stadium on Saturday night.
The story of the game was Swinehart, the district’s second-leading rusher, finally getting back on track offensively after being bottled up in the Knights’ back-to-back losses.
“We knew we had to turn things around,” Swinehart said. “We knew we weren’t playing like the team we actually were. We had to come out here and kind of prove ourselves.”
Swinehart scored on his first five touches of the game and finished with six carries for 214 yards and five touchdowns. It was easily the best game of the season for the senior.
But it wasn’t just Swinehart that had a big night as C.J. Haskins completed both of his passes for 71 yards and a touchdown to Jared Peake and also added 10-yard rushing score. The Knights scored on seven of the first eight offensive plays they ran.
“It’s just what we needed,” Haskins said. “Our offense has been a little stagnant the past couple of weeks. This right here fired us up. Next week is a big game, so hopefully our offense shows up.”
What Haskins was referring to is Turner Ashby’s season finale at Rockbridge County.
The Wildcats, who defeated Harrisonburg 34-29 earlier Saturday in a thriller, currently sit at No. 4 in the Region 3C power ratings while the Knights sit at the No. 5 spot.
There’s a very real possibility that the two teams will play in back-to-back weeks.
Fraser said a game like Saturday’s hopefully boosted Turner Ashby’s confidence after a tough couple of weeks and that will allow the Knights to have a solid week of practice.
“The guys work hard,” Fraser said “We’re proud of that. We’ve played two really good team the past two weeks. This will be a good jumpstart to get us through the week. The message is just that we have the game of our lives this week with a lot on the line.
“Our thing is that we have to get ready for Rockbridge. For us, that’s the game of the year. Be excited about tonight for a little while, but on Monday, we have to come out ready to go.”
Haskins said the Knights will certainly be ready to go Monday after such a big win.
And although Turner Ashby got what it needed on Saturday, it knows it has more work to do to fulfill all of its goal by the time the season comes to an end.
“This is our second chance,” Haskins said. “We’ve lost our last two big district games. This is our chance to prove that we still belong.”
Waynesboro 0 0 6 0—6
Turner Ashby 49 19 0 7—75
TA — Swinehart 58 run (Spirollari kick), 9:39
TA — Swinehart 10 run (kick failed), 6:54
TA — Peake 49 pass from Haskins (Spirollari kick), 4:37
TA — Swinehart 50 run (Campbell run), 1:51
TA — Swinehart 28 run (Spirollari kick), 1:29
TA — Valle 10 pass from Haskins (Spirollari kick), 27.0
TA — Valle 59 fumble return (Spirollari kick), 3.0
TA — Swinehart 25 run (kick failed), 7:54
TA — Quintanilla 19 fumble return (Spirollari kick), 5:47
TA — Haskins 10 run (Spirollari kick), 4:56
W — Gaylor 25 pass from Jackson (kick failed), 6:30
TA — Casarrubias 11 run (Spirollari kick), 3:20